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Recommit to promises made under the Convention on the Rights of the Child
by UNICEF, Save the Children, End Childhood Poverty
12:24pm 18th Nov, 2019
Dec. 2019
Humanitarian Action for Children 2020 Appeal, by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
UNICEF launches its 2020 emergency appeal to reach 59 million children with life-saving support in 64 countries across the globe.
“Around the world today, we’re seeing the largest number of children in need of emergency assistance since we began record-keeping. One in four children lives in a country affected by conflict or disaster”, says UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
“Historic numbers of children forcibly uprooted from their homes urgently require protection and support. Conflict remains the major driver, while hunger, infectious disease, and extreme weather events related to climate change force millions of others to seek lifesaving aid.”
''In conflict and disaster, children suffer first and suffer most. Today, one in four of the world’s children lives in a conflict or disaster zone - a fact that should shake each of us to our core. All of these children face an uncertain future. Sadly, the number of countries experiencing conflict is at its highest point since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.
Nearly nine years of war in the Syrian Arab Republic have left nearly 5 million children in need and more than 2.5 million children living as refugees outside of the country. More than four years of conflict in Yemen have created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. About 1.2 million children in the Central African Republic desperately need help after six years of war.
In other ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan and many more, children pay the heaviest price.
Around the world, more than 30 million children have been displaced by conflict. Many of them are being enslaved, trafficked, abused and exploited. Many more are living in limbo, without official immigration status or access to education and health care.
From the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh to the outflow of families from Central America seeking a safer and more dignified life, children have been uprooted by conflict and violence in historic numbers.
Diseases such as Ebola and measles are also re-emerging, often in conflict zones. They further complicate the humanitarian response in places where access is more and more restricted — such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the current Ebola outbreak is the world’s second largest and deadliest on record.
At the same time, extreme weather events are creating more frequent and destructive natural disasters worldwide. More than half a billion children now live in areas with extremely high flood occurrence, and almost 160 million are in areas with high drought severity.
Regions like the Sahel, where livelihoods rely on agriculture, grazing and fishing, are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
All too often, armed groups exploit the social grievances that arise under such pressurized conditions. Across West and Central Africa, violence and insecurity are already robbing nearly 2 million children — an entire generation — of their right to education.
Faced with these challenges, UNICEF and partners have responded to emergencies in 61 countries in 2019. In the first eight months of the year, we provided humanitarian assistance to nearly 29 million children – substantially on track to reach the target of 53 million by 31 December.
In eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, we worked with local partners, community and religious leaders, the media and businesses to bring life-saving information about the Ebola virus to more than 25 million people at risk.
In Yemen, we provided mental health and psychosocial support to nearly 400,000 children and caregivers facing the horrors of war and displacement.
In the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, we vaccinated more than 280,000 children to protect them from measles and avert the spread of this dangerous but preventable disease. In Mozambique, after two devastating cyclones, we have improved access to safe water for more than 1.5 million people.
But the challenges persist. UNICEF’s appeal, Humanitarian Action for Children 2020, aims to assist 59 million children in humanitarian emergencies in the coming year.
Our presence in many countries before, during and after emergencies delivers a continuum of support. The rehabilitation and upgrade of water and sanitation systems serve vulnerable households in both the immediate crisis and the longer term, for instance. We also build the long-term capacity of health ministries and civil society partners to identify, treat and prevent chronic conditions such as malnutrition.
Sustainable interventions are important because crises are not one-time shocks; their impact can last for years.
Children and young people affected by crises call for concrete action to protect and promote their rights - today and into the future. They want to be part of shaping the solutions.
We cannot answer their call without you, our partners. But with our collective action, we can make a life-changing difference for children and young people at risk''.
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children sets out the agency’s 2020 appeal and its work to provide conflict and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition, education, health and protection services. Overall, including adults, the appeal covers emergency support to 95 million people.
In 2020, working alongside its partners, UNICEF targets include:
5.1 million children to be treated for severe acute malnutrition; 8.5 million children to be immunized against measles; 28.4 million people to have access to safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene; 4.5 million children and caregivers to have access to mental health and psychosocial support; 1.4 million children and women to have access to gender-based violence risk mitigation, prevention or response interventions.
10.2 million children to have access to formal or non-formal education, including early learning. 1.7 million people to be reached with cash assistance. 49 million at-risk/affected children and adults to be engaged through communication for development/community engagement.
Nov. 2019
Lack of funding leaves millions of children in conflict and disaster zones at risk
Millions of children living in areas affected by conflict and disaster are at risk because of substantial shortages in funding for lifesaving humanitarian programmes, UNICEF said today.
To date, UNICEF has only received 54 per cent of the US$4.16 billion needed to meet the basic health, education, nutrition and protection needs of 41 million children in 59 countries this year. Heading into the final quarter of 2019, the funding gap stands at 46 per cent.
“Millions of vulnerable children around the world are suffering the grievous consequences of increasingly complex humanitarian crises,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Without additional resources, these children will not go to school, be vaccinated, receive adequate nutrition, or be protected from violence and abuse. While we continue to appeal for an end to conflicts and better readiness to emergencies, we need additional donor support to help us meet children’s most basic needs.”
Emergencies with the largest funding gaps include Pakistan (83 per cent), Cameroon (80 per cent), Burkina Faso (76 per cent) and Venezuela (73 per cent). Large-scale emergencies in Syria and neighboring countries, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Bangladesh also remain significantly underfunded.
If these funding gaps persist through the end of the year, the consequences for children will be dire:
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, US$ 61 million is urgently required to provide essential services for communities in areas that have long suffered from humanitarian and security crises, and at the same time to create an environment conducive to an effective Ebola response.
In Ethiopia, UNICEF needs more than US$43 million to provide children and families affected by drought and displacement with access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation.
In Haiti, UNICEF requires funds to provide nutritional support to over 19,000 children in need of urgent nutrition assistance and to support family reunification and care services for unaccompanied and separated children.
In Libya, without urgent funding, UNICEF will be unable to provide mine risk education for 50,000 children.
In northeast Nigeria, funding is urgently needed to sustain lifesaving nutrition programmes, including funding to prevent a break in the supply pipeline of ready-to-use-therapeutic food for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition in children.
In South Sudan, UNICEF child protection programmes are only 20 per cent funded while water, sanitation and hygiene programmes are 26 per cent funded.
In Sudan, UNICEF needs funding to continue lifesaving treatment for more than 61,000 children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
In Syria, 2.1 million children will miss out on critical formal and non-formal education activities without adequate funding.
In Syria’s neighbouring countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt), home to 2.5 million Syrian refugees, a funding gap of US$ 249 million means that 460,000 children could also miss out on education activities.
In Venezuela, UNICEF requires at least US$ 6 million to help 60,000 children enroll and stay in school, through the provision of school feeding programmes. UNICEF also needs at least US$ 3 million to help vaccinate nearly 400,000 children against preventable diseases over the next three months.
In West and Central Africa, UNICEF humanitarian assistance to support education for children in countries affected by emergencies are 72 per cent unfunded.
“During my time on the ground in countries under crisis – countries like DRC, Mozambique, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen – I’ve seen firsthand the power of humanitarian funding to change the lives of vulnerable children for the better,” said Fore. “With increased support, together we can reach even more of the children who need us most.”
Nov. 2019
UNICEF reports uneven progress in 30 years of child rights treaty
Although the world has made historic gains over the past three decades in improving children’s lives, urgent action is required if the poorest children are to feel the impact, a new UN report warns.
The study by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) calls on countries to recommit to promises made under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted 30 years ago.
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, noted that while increasing numbers of children are living longer, better and healthier lives, the odds continue to be stacked against the poorest and most vulnerable.
"In addition to the persistent challenges of health, nutrition and education, children today have to contend with new threats like climate change, online abuse and cyberbullying," she said.
"Only with innovation, political will and increased resources will we help translate the vision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child into a reality for all children everywhere."
Uneven progress, emerging threats
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely and rapidly adopted international treaty in history, and has been ratified by more than 190 countries.
It acknowledges childhood, which lasts through age 18, as a special time in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity.
UNICEF reported that since its adoption, the global rate for under-five mortality has dropped by around 60 per cent, while the proportion of undernourished children has almost halved.
The Convention has also influenced numerous constitutions, laws and policies that reflect its guiding principles, which include non-discrimination, the right to protection and acting in the best interests of the child. However, the report shows that progress has not been even.
UNICEF said the world’s children continue to confront age-old threats while new hazards loom over their future.
The poorest children are still likely to die from preventable causes before reaching their fifth birthday. Millions of the most disadvantaged are still at risk due to poverty, discrimination and marginalization. At the same time, cases of the childhood killer measles are on the rise as immunization coverage rates have slowed down since 2010.
Progress in education also is dismal. The report reveals that the number of primary level children out of school has remained static for more than a decade.
"Many of those who are in school are not learning the basics, let alone the skills they need to thrive in today’s economy," UNICEF added.
In recent years, young people have been speaking up and calling for action to address climate change. UNICEF said they are the ones most at-risk.
"Rapid changes in climate are spreading disease, increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, and creating food and water insecurity. Unless urgent action is taken, the worst for many children is yet to come," UNICEF warned.
UNICEF believes that where there is political will and determination, children’s lives improve, as documented by the report, which has been released on World Children’s Day.
The study calls for more data and evidence to accelerate progress and advance child rights, and recommends involving young people in advancing solutions.
UNICEF will use the coming 12 months to promote an inclusive global dialogue aimed at making the promise of the convention a reality for all children.
"The Convention stands at a crossroads. It is up to us to recommit, take decisive steps and hold ourselves accountable."
* A brief incomplete selection of links highlighting current concerns:
* Keeping the promise: Ending violence against children by 2030 report (106pp):
* World Vision: Community Health Workers helping to End Violence Against Children:
* ChildFund Alliance: Small Voices, Big Dreams 2019: Violence Against Children, as explained by Children from 15 countries:
* Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: Empowering children with disabilities for the enjoyment of their human rights, including through inclusive education:
* OHCHR Input from a child rights perspective to the 2019 UN Forum on Sustainable Development:
* Children Rights Connect: Children Human Rights Defenders News Feed:

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